Iran, IAEA meet to discuss installing cameras for nuke monitoring

Tehran has still not agreed to allow inspectors to watch the footage of cameras which it will be reinstalling.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi in Tehran (photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif meets with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi in Tehran
(photo credit: MAJID ASGARIPOUR/WANA (WEST ASIA NEWS AGENCY) VIA REUTERS)

Iran and the IAEA met on Sunday to advance the process of restoring the agency’s camera monitoring of the nuclear program, especially the Karaj facility.

Multiple Iranian media outlets discussed the meetings. They tried to frame the regime’s decision to permit inspectors to renew their electronic monitoring of the Karaj facility, for manufacturing advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium, as a victory.

A spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Sunday that the UN nuclear watchdog would reinstall cameras at Karaj in the next few days after meeting Tehran’s conditions.“Today, meetings between the technical and security officials of the AEOI and the inspectors and technicians related to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cameras, are being held at the AEOI building (in Tehran)."

"In this regard, a morning meeting was held and the second round of the meeting started mid-afternoon", said Kamalvandi. One of the conditions Tehran set was to have an opportunity to examine the cameras before they were reinstalled to assuage their concerns that the devices could be used to spy or sabotage, in light of the sabotage of Karaj in June.

However, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi on Friday had preempted this condition by displaying to the entire global media for the first time in detail a sample camera similar to those his agency is using for monitoring Iran’s nuclear program.

 IAEA DIRECTOR-GENERAL Rafael Grossi speaks at a news conference during a Board of Governors meeting in Vienna in September. (credit: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters) IAEA DIRECTOR-GENERAL Rafael Grossi speaks at a news conference during a Board of Governors meeting in Vienna in September. (credit: Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

The stunning press session, almost like a “how do IAEA cameras work and look 101” appeared directed at Iranian claims that the cameras can be hacked and used to spy on them. “Cyberattack is not possible,” he said, noting that the camera is “not connected” to a general network or computer.

Grossi pointed out that the data storage and batteries are inside the camera, and cannot be hacked or tampered with. He showed how any physical tampering would leave a trace.

The cameras, he said, are standard IAEA-issue and that there are 1,000-2,000 such cameras being used by the agency worldwide. Furthermore, Iran examined these same cameras when they were first installed.

At that Friday press conference, the director-general pushed back on criticism that he had not achieved sufficient restoration of monitoring of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

One journalist noted that Tehran has still not agreed to allow inspectors to watch the footage of cameras which it will be reinstalling at the Karaj nuclear facility.

In addition, she flagged that it was unclear how Grossi would be able to decipher what progress Iran might have made during the last several months since Iran removed the IAEA’s Karaj monitoring cameras.He responded that the focus should be on the positive movement – that Iran has agreed to allow restoring camera monitoring at Karaj.

At the same time, he acknowledged the pieces missing from his new deal with Tehran and said he is working on resolving those issues.In addition, he said that his inspectors are very familiar with Karaj, its equipment and production lines and that they had strategies for discerning what nuclear developments occurred while IAEA access was cut-off.

He also said “we have doubts” about Iran’s accusations of Mossad sabotage as the cause of lost footage which it has taken out of an allegedly destroyed camera which it has refused to turn over to the IAEA.The press conference came two days after Iran and the IAEA on Wednesday reached a partial deal on nuclear issues in dispute between the sides, while leaving other disputed issues open.

Some of the disputes relate to evidence the Mossad uncovered of undeclared illicit nuclear activities, dating back to the disclosure of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear archive in April 2018; some to February and some to June.

“Due to the completion of judicial and security checks on the affected cameras, as well as the IAEA’s steps to condemn the act of vandalism against the Tessa complex, Iran has voluntarily authorized the agency to replace the damaged cameras with new ones,” Nournews said in an initial vague announcement from the Iranian side last week.

Iran has shown the IAEA three of the four cameras which it had removed from Karaj and “data storage media” containing their footage, but not the one containing a destroyed camera’s footage.

The Islamic Republic has claimed that it did not destroy the camera, but that it was destroyed by a Mossad sabotage operation in June.

In fact, Tehran has used the excuse of the alleged Israeli attack as its reason for delaying the IAEA’s restoration of monitoring the site.